China: Political commentator, previously jailed for 4 years, detained again

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Zhou Yuanzhi, a political commentator who served 4 years in prison until 2022, and was recently detained again under undisclosed accusations.



11 September 2023

Political commentator Zhou Yuanzhi, has been released after being detained for 15 days.


Chinese political commentator Zhou Yuanzhi, 62, was detained again on 22 August 2023 under undisclosed accusations, only 16 months after his release following a four-year long detention on trumped-up charges. His recent arrest is reportedly related to his comments on the authorities’ handling of recent flooding in Hebei province, in the east of the country, and the detention of another political commentator critical of the regime,

Qin Yongmin.

“Zhou Yuanzhi was only serving the public interest by commenting on the country’s political issues. He should never have been detained. We urge the international community to build up pressure on the Chinese authorities to secure Zhou’s release alongside all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in the country.

Cédric Alviani
RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director

For decades, Zhou has been commenting on corruption and pressing social issues under several pen names in overseas Chinese-language media outlets, including The Epoch Times, a american-registered media outlet close to persecuted religious movement Falun Gong.

Zhou was detained from November 2017 to May 2022 after being convicted of “unlawful assembly”, “defamation”, and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, blurry charges which are frequently used as a weapon against journalists. He was also briefly detained in May 2008 during the crackdown on civil society in the leadup to the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he has been conducting a large-scale crusade against journalism, as revealed in RSF’s report published in December 2021 The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, which details Beijing’s efforts to control information and media within and outside its borders.

China ranks 179th out of 180 in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders with at least 115 detained.

172/ 180
Score : 23.36
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